So its been a long time since my last blog posting way back at the end of February.
Though I was looking to keep the posts coming frequent, the simple fact of the matter is I’ve been in a pretty uninspired writing mood over the past months.Full Story»
The 2013 Season has started for the Bicycleworks u23 team. New faces have arrived into the nine man team with new additions Kevin Barclay, Steven Lawley, Gus Gillies and Duncan Ewing. The rest of the team stays the same with Douglas Shaw, me, Andrew Cox, Callum Wilkinson and Craig Dale completing the line up.
Winter training went pretty smoothly for everyone, each of us having our own troubles with the ice and snow, but on the whole we arrived at the season opener last weekend with everyone in good shape.
So this is my first blog post from across the pond aka stateside aka the USA. Despite everything tending to be bigger here in the US, I intend to keep my blog postings shorter and more frequent this year (well this is the plan!).
Its been a little over 3 weeks now since I took off from London Heathrow. A smooth flight to Philadelphia was followed by some airport time before another flight onto Greensboro, North Carolina. From there it was a short drive to Winston-Salem and the home town of Team SmartStop P/B Mountain Khakis. A longggg day but I had made it and I could begin to relax.
The racing season rapidly approaches and for me in 2013 that will mean the USA! Those that know me and those that have followed my progression in the cycling world here on my blog will know how much that has involved Belgium.
The Belgium chapter will continue I can assure you of that. However for season 2013 the USA beckons and a chance to try and make an impact on the American cycling scene and a chance to continue making my way in the sport. And so to my new team for 2013, Team SmartStop P/B Mountain Khakis. A US Continental cycling team based in North Carolina.
So I’m home now after the Volta ao Algarve, which, like always, proved to be very hard. The stages were all mammoth 200k slogs on twisty-turny roads through the hills. The stage finishes were a bit sketchy and the whole thing was topped off by a 35km TT through the hills on bad roads which were wet for the first half of the race.
I suppose this epic parcours was chosen to try and compensate the reduction in number of stages this year (four versus five in previous years) but I don’t think the ProTour guys liked this idea very much as they were complaining bitterly.
The season has started, my sixth season as a professional. The weather here has been brilliant (a little cold at 10-12ºC) but always sunny and it’s been fantastic training up for these races.
It’s such a pleasure getting out the in the hills working away, seeing all the beautiful views and interesting things, testing my form on the climbs. Of course for the Volta ao Algarve bad weather is forecast and I go badly in bad weather, but we’ll deal with that as it comes…
I haven’t written since the penultimate stage of the Volta a Portugal. I have been wary of writing bullshit in such stressful, emotional times. I don’t like to speak of the problems in cycling, since I find them so boring. It’s the first thing anyone outside the sport mentions when I say I’m a cyclist. The Armstrong fiasco affected me quite a bit.
I was one of those kids that took to the roads because of the Armstrong myth. My mum, Kate Swift, died of cancer when I was 19 during my first year at university. Armstrong was a huge motivation for her and I, or at least gave us reason for optimism. That winter I watched my first bike race too: the Volta ao Algarve; won by Floyd Landis.
I have indeed been a busy man throughout the season. I have been racing in the junior Scotland squad in all the national series, and I have had some highs and some lows as we do as bike riders.
If I was to go through the full season there would be no room for anyone else’s blogs so I am going to tell you the best and the worst part about my season.
My ‘up’ of the season started with the decision to ride the Isle of Man on my own with my friend Stuart Mcluskey another lad who was in the junior Scotland squad .
My 2012 season began way back on the 19/02 and with my final race on the 14/10, it is finally time to relax, reflect and look ahead to the rest of 2012, 2013 and beyond!
There have been ups and there have been downs (expected as a cyclist) but the good times always outweigh the bad.
All in all I took 3 wins this year, 1 overall classement win, and 3 further podium placings amongst other 10′s.
Just a small look back at the 2012 season and its up’s and downs.
The 2012 season has came to end for us as a team with what can only be described as a season of two halves.
Our Season began back in March with the first round of the Scottish Series at Gifford in East Lothian. It was a shock to the system, new bikes, new kit and a group of new riders. If I was being honest I could only see one outcome. None of us in top 10 and the race passed us by with no real hint of us even taking part.
On to April and slowly our fortunes began to turn, two of the guys (Alister McNicol, Andrew Cox) went to Tour Doon Hame.
I was chatting to a friend the other day who expressed how sad he was about the whole Lance situation; I think that is something we can all agree on. Then later in the conversation he went on to say how he hoped Sky were clean, thus setting himself up for more potential sadness and disappointment. I’ve already written about how to be a cycling fan recently but I feel obliged to continue my teachings in light of increasing revelations. I need to keep you all on the straight and narrow and not get too disappointed in the future.
A few riders, ex-riders and bigwigs; some disgraced, others deified and the rest somewhere between those two extremes have been saying things that make me concerned that not only will pro cycling not change, it’s fans won’t either. Fear not people, I am here to save you and help you appreciate cycling for what it is.
There is no doubt that British cycling is alive and well at the highest echelons of performance – Britons won the Tour, the world champs and pretty much the entire velodrome; there’s also no doubt that British cycling is alive and kicking at the grass roots level too – membership has doubled since 2007. It makes sense to assume that all is well in between, too, right?
Unfortunately not; BC is the governing body for beginner’s racing, Regional racing (2nd and 3rd cats), all levels of women’s road racing, National level racing (Elites and 1st cats) and the semi professional/professional teams below Sky. All of these parts of the sport are in trouble – but particularly at the higher end.
Time again for an update as this 2012 season in Belgium continues.
Yet again the consistency has continued but also now I can happily say that consistency has been rewarded with some wins.
Victories have been near all year but found myself just missing out. However with three wins and one overall classement win in two weeks, I have finally been able to enjoy that sweet feeling of success again. It was simply about keeping the faith knowing that it was only a matter of time before the persistence paid off.
The stage started with a ceremonious 37km where we pottered along behind the winners.
I felt awful.
I found it very hard to congratulate David Blanco. I told him so. I felt crap, humiliated, embarrassed; it was the first time the reality of loosing the race had sunk in.
David is a friend, he’s a very intelligent and interesting guy. He’s off to work in Africa next month, his record of five victories in the Volta a Portugal set, I said I’d visit him and I’d really love to one day, finances and career permitting.
What a FARCE. My TT bike was exactly at the right length when I came to this race, yet at the prologue they told me it was 1cm past the limit… It was duly cut and shortened.
Today, remarkably it was 2cm passed the limit! Did the bike grow? No, it was bloody measured with some contraption a 10 year old might have bashed together. It’s a disgrace.